Fears that Cape Town, South Africa's second-biggest city and most popular tourist attraction, would run out of water have abated as good winter rains ease the worst drought on record.
The six main dams supplying the city are at 38.1 percent of capacity, compared with 31.8 percent a week earlier and just 23 percent a year ago, the city said on its website on Monday. Cape Town's 4 million residents are using 520 million liters (137 million gallons) a day, above the target of 450 million liters.
City authorities warned earlier this year that they may be forced to switch off the taps and residents would have to collect a daily ration of 25 liters of water from distribution points unless the three-year drought broke and consumption was curtailed.
While water cuts are no longer on the table, authorities say three years of above-average rainfall are needed to replenish the dams, and they have maintained strict curbs on use.
At this point in 2014, the dams were 93 percent full.
"The city of Cape Town urges all of its residents to keep on saving even if it is raining," Deputy Mayor Ian Nielson said in a statement. "It is too soon to know what supply level is needed in order to safely navigate the summer of 2019. It is therefore critical that we continue to keep our consumption low."
The rain and cooler temperatures are good for the wine grape and citrus crops and have been a boon for farmers in Western Cape Province, who have been hard hit by the drought, according to Carl Opperman, CEO of Agri Western Cape, a farmers' group. Before the drought, the industry employed about 800,000 people in the region.
"Our biggest challenge now is to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the drought, especially the 70,000 to 80,000 jobs that were lost due to the fall in production," he said.
Alan Winde, the provincial minister of economic opportunities, said there had been fewer job losses than anticipated. And farmers have adapted to having less water by investing in new technology, and changing and diversifying their crops, he said.